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Back to School: How guardians can check in on their mental health.

A medical professional shares some tips on how parents and guardians can check in on their mental health and why it's important.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As you kids head back to the classroom or off to college you may be feeling anxious or nervous and that is really common. 

Dr. Channing Brown, a Primary Care Doctor for children and adults and an Assistant Professor in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at UAB, said the COVID pandemic and school safety can cause feelings of anxiety among families. 

"I think a lot of families are nervous, not only about the normal things that we be nervous about with kids going back to school, the challenges that a new classroom may provide but also ‘how do I keep my kids safe,’" Brown said.

She emphasized that getting proper sleep and having a structure can improve both a guardian and a child's mental health.

"One of the biggest things that we all can do is get back in the habit of having regular bedtimes, getting plenty of sleep and making sure that we are getting to take care of our own bodies and brains," Brown said.

She added that self-care is a must for guardians.

"If we are not taking care of ourselves, we can't show up for our kids and we can't be there to invest in them and be the listening ear that they need," Brown said.

Dr. Brown shared that self-care can look different for everyone but finding time to do things to relax, as well as speaking with friends or a counselor, can make a big difference.

And if you are someone who is sending your child off to college, Brown said that starting their independence early could make you feel more confident as they leave the home.

"Knowing that you have been there for some of their first times of maybe doing their own laundry, making their own doctor's appointment, going to run to the grocery store and picking up foods to create a meal for themselves," Brown said.

She also suggested setting up a time to check in with your child while they are away. And while they're still at home, Dr. Brown encourages family dinners because they can be, "a really wonderful way to introduce your kids that it's okay to talk about things that are hard and it's a time to be able to process hard things that are going on in their lives."

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